‘O’Dowd must give more time for consultations’ – Rogers
SDLP Education spokesperson Sean Rogers has said Education Minister John O’Dowd should extend the time-frame set up for consultation on post-primary area plans which could result in the mergers or closures of a number of secondary schools.
Speaking to Newry Times after receiving a report from Professor Colin Knox on the Department of Education’s consultation on the education policy debate which focuses on the future planning of schools, Rogers said:
“I welcome Professor Knox’s report into post-primary area based education planning and I repeat my call for Education Minister to extend his department’s consultation on this so that there can be a real and active feedback process engaging everyone with an interest in the future of our schools.
“At it stands, this consultation is extremely time limited from July to the end of October with the actual online consultation only being available from September. This makes it very difficult for people who have limited access to the Internet to respond.”
Rogers continued, “School leaders take a very proactive role in our schools and communities and it is only right that they are given an appropriate time-frame to formulate their response to these important issues about the future of our schools.
“Schools are facing major challenges with declining enrollments, contracting budgets and issues with educational performance. It is therefore imperative that the changes meet the needs of all our children so that our children can be educated and live in a shared society.”
He added, “We must ensure that those who have a real interest in our schools especially parents, pupils and teachers have the opportunity to respond to these proposals laid out by the Education Minister.
“The next generation will judge us harshly if we don’t get this right and we owe it to our children to give these important proposals the scrutiny which they deserve.”
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